When Confidence Becomes a Career Liability

4 minute read

shutterstock_193036472The drive to be perceived as strong is becoming ever more prevalent in today’s society and is especially present in some members of our younger generation.

In theory, confidence has its merits and is a necessary quality for successful leadership. It can provide people with the resiliency needed to complete complex tasks even in the face of consistent obstacles and resistance.

In one’s career, the more someone asks of themselves, the harder they work and the more they deliver. Confidence enhances focus and allows someone to more seamlessly navigate a difficult career.

On the other hand, over confidence can erode job prospects and relationships. Self-assurance, when combined with negative traits (i.e. lack of critical thinking skills, ethics, intelligence, warmth for others) becomes a breeding ground for poor decisions.

Unfortunately, a string of bad decisions can lead to resentment which hurts relationships which then leads to low self-esteem which leads to quitting.

Because it’s imperative to determine whether your confidence is healthy and helpful or potentially destructive, it’s important to further analyze the topic.

Distinguishing Self Confidence From Over Arrogance

If you can pinpoint the drivers behind one’s behavior, you can more often than not effectively determine the difference between healthy self-assurance or destructive arrogance.

The driver behind confident behavior will frequently clue us in as to whether we or those around us are engaging in healthy self-assurance or destructive arrogance. In most instances, healthy confidence is used to create while arrogance is an avoidance tactic.

Confident people leverage inner strength to propel their abilities and enable them to be happy in the moment. Arrogant people behave with hubris to avoid unpleasant circumstances.

Consider the following 3 common situations (all of which breed destructive confidence):

1. When a person uses arrogance as a coping mechanism to deal with insecurity or fear of rejection, they get into real trouble. For some individuals, being treated and judged poorly by others becomes painful and, often they find that being rude and arrogant prevents this from happening.

On the surface, it seems to work. Little do they know, they are avoided by successful, happy individuals and end up being surrounded by and admired by insecure, ineffective individuals.

2. A second red light is when someone (either knowingly or unknowingly) uses arrogance as a coping mechanism to mitigate anxiety. Sometimes, the human brain has trouble coming to terms with the fact that it has shortcomings; people will convince themselves they are correct based on pride rather than factual evidence.

3. When people possess misguided goals and lack values of true substance, they often suffer from arrogance. For instance, when a person’s confidence is drawn from how much money they have as opposed to having core values of substance, they become arrogant and isolate themselves from healthy relationships. Then, if they lose that money, they are frequently unable to emotionally cope with the loss and it sends them the complete opposite way.

Using Strength to Judge Other’s Capabilities and the Validity of Information

Have the ever heard the term the blind leading the blind? Ironically, when the wrong people become confident for the wrong reasons, a scary combination of four things happen:

1. That individual sounds more persuasive.

2. Their newfound confidence makes them more likely to give advice.

3. Their arrogance deteriorates the quality of their advice.

4. As the advice becomes worse, it is more widely accepted.

Eventually, the arrogant get discredited. Though, until that happens they become a liability to those who mistake arrogance for effectiveness and success. Our recruiters often find that the worst managers tend to sound the most arrogant on the surface, have the rudest personalities and are by far the most willing to make grandiose claims (and drop names) to impress young job seekers.

If the applicants don’t fact check and utilize their God-given logic, they often find themselves working for a poor company with less than desirable management.

In the End

In almost all instances, arrogant people pay grave consequences for their actions. Whether it be that they pay with their overall happiness, ability to enjoy positive relationships or earning potential, they end up forfeiting more than they know.